Frederick ‘Tommy’ Thomas was born in Margate in 1930. He lived with his mother, father and younger brother who was born in 1938 and was brought up in a terraced house before moving to a house attached to the printing works, where his mother worked for her father. He can remember having Scarlet Fever as a young boy living in this house. He attended first Holy Trinity School which was attached to the church.
He can remember being at home when war was declared, and that as soon as it was, air raid sirens went off in the gas works over the road. At the time his mother was bathing his younger brother, and there was a panic on to get him out and dry.
In 1940 he was sent to live with relatives in Hednesford. He lived in a big house there with his aunties and grandparents. After a short while his mother also moved up. This house was a three-story semi-detached house on the top of Hill Street and it backed onto a corn field. After three or four months, he was moved to live with an aunty in South Wales, where he helped in her chip shop, and from there he was moved back to Stafford to join his old schoolmates from Chatham House, who had been evacuated with their teachers up to Stafford. Unfortunately at this time his mother had moved back to Kent, as his younger brother wasn’t well, so Fred was assigned a billet like the rest of his classmates.
He stayed with Mr. and Mrs Maloney for about six months until Mr. Maloney was called up, and he was then moved to Mr. and Mrs Laytham off Sandon Road next to where the Lotus shoe factory used to be. He enjoyed spending time with the Laythams and another evacuee Robin Garner, and can remember feeling like the couple tried their best to make then both feel at home (click on the link below to hear him speak about this):
Unfortunately when Mr. Laytham was called up, Fred had to move again to Mr. and Mrs Maddocks in Wolverhampton Road. He didn’t enjoy this billet too much as he was treated like a babysitter for their young child.
In the autumn of 1944, many of Fred’s classmates began to return home. However, his mother told him that he had to stay until Christmas. He was very upset not to be going home with his mates, and his friends put their money together to buy him a ticket to go home with them. His mother was not surprised when she saw him telling him: “I thought you’d get home”.